Universal to partner for Shanghai theme park

SHANGHAI, China -- Universal Parks and Resorts, a unit of Vivendi Universal, was selected to become a partner and the management firm for a Universal park to be built here in conjunction with local business interests.

The theme park, still subject to further governmental approvals, would be built at a cost of about $870 million along the Huang Pu River, and possibly open as early as 2006, according to an agreement in principle signed by Universal and two Chinese partners. The latter would own a controlling interest in the park.

The Universal park would offer a mix of Hollywood and Chinese experiences. Universal at this time operates parks in Florida, California, Spain and Japan.

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Co., which is set to break ground Jan. 12 on a Disneyland-like park in Hong Kong, which could open during 2005 or 2006, remains interested in building a theme park elsewhere in mainland China, but that is not likely to happen until 2010, Disney officials said.

Both Disney and Universal had been negotiating with Chinese authorities to build a Shanghai park.

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